I hope you all had a good week. This week, it’s the turn of county Down. The place where our patron saint began and ended his journey in Ireland and a land of beautiful castles, breathtaking beaches, magical forests and awe-inspiring mountains. Let’s begin with the mountains;
1. The Mourne Mountains
This stunning mountain range forms the backdrop of county Down and a clear day they can be seen from as far away as Dublin. The highest of the many summits is Slieve Donard, standing at 2790 feet. On particularly clear days you can see as far as the Isle of Man, mountains in the Lake District in England and Snowdonia in Wales. A paradise for hikers and rock climbers, these iconic mountains were also the inspiration for the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis.
They also provide the backdrop to the home of one of our wonderful makers here at The Irish Store. Nestled at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, stands Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen. Widely regarded as the finest weavers of Jacquard linen in the world, their history stretches back to the 19th century and their reputation is second to none with examples of their stunning craftsmanship gracing the the world’s most prestigious hotels, embassies and palaces. We have a stunning selection of their beautifully crafted tablecloths, napkins and our best selling handkerchiefs. The perfect gift from Ireland.
Time for yet another beautiful beach walk on one of Ireland’s finest, Murlough strand. Perfectly placed at the foot of the mighty Mournes, it is backed by an ancient dune system which is now a National Nature Reserve and a haven for birds and hundreds of species of butterflies.
3. Mount Stewart
This stunning 19th century mansion has been beautifully restored and a tour of the house is a feast for the eyes with stunning collections on show. Mount Stewart also boasts magnificent gardens which have been voted as one of the top 10 in the world. Among the many themed gardens in the estate is the stunning Shamrock garden, inspired by Irish mythology. The house is also beautifully situated on the banks of the scenic and picturesque Strangford Lough.
4. Tollymore Forest
This is an absolute woodland wonderland at the foot of the Mourne Mountains covering 1600 acres. The river Shimna runs through it and can be crossed by no less than 16 bridges, the oldest one dating back nearly 300 years. Go for a hike, be spoiled for choice for a perfect picnic spot and see why this magical place provided locations for the massive hit TV series Game of Thrones.
So before we head home, we must stop by Downpatrick, widely regarded as the home of St. Patrick. Discover his journey at the brilliant visitor center and make sure to visit the idyllic and tranquil Down cathedral, his final resting place. It is believed he died on 17 March 461 AD which we still celebrate to this day, and his remains were brought to the Hill of Down, the site of this beautiful cathedral.
Slán go fóill!
Founder of the Irish Store.
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